India: KKR in talks to sell Aricent in a deal worth up to $1.5b

Global private equity major KKR & Co. LP is in early stages of discussions to sell Aricent Inc., a California-based global software firm with a strong presence in India, in a deal worth $1-1.5 billion, according to two people aware of the development.

KKR has hired JP Morgan to find a buyer for Aricent, in which KKR holds about 79% stake.

French technology engineering consulting services firm Altran is among the parties interested in acquiring the asset, the first of the two persons said on condition of anonymity.

Aricent, previously known as Flextronics Software Systems, was spun off from Flextronics in 2006 when KKR acquired a majority stake in it. KKR had increased its stake from 62.5% to 79% in 2009. Aricent, which claims to employ 12,000 consultants, designers, and engineers at 19 locations worldwide, has offices in Bengaluru, Gurugram, Pune, Hyderabad, Noida and Chennai.

“KKR is engaged in talks with other private equity investors and strategic buyers. However, the chances are high for the global strategic investors,” said the second person on condition of anonymity.

Sequoia Capital also owns a minority stake in Aricent.

Spokespersons with KKR, JP Morgan and Altran declined to comment, while mails sent to Aricent and Sequoia went unanswered.

A global leader in Engineering and R&D services (ER&D), the Paris-based Altran offers products and services in the areas of aerospace, automotive, defence, energy, finance, life sciences, railway, and telecom.

In 2016, the Altran group generated revenues of €2 billion ($2.3 billion). With a headcount of more than 30,000 employees, Altran is present in more than 20 countries.

Altran India, founded in 2004, with headquarters in Bengaluru and offices in Coimbatore, Noida and Chennai, has strengthened its position in the country through a number of buyouts in the last few years.

In 2015, Altran made its first deal in India with its acquisition of Bangalore-based start-up SiCon Design Technologies Pvt. Ltd, for an undisclosed amount.

In February 2017, Altran had acquired Pricol Technologies, a Pune-based engineering solutions provider.

In September, Altran acquired GlobalEdge Software Ltd, a Bengaluru-based product engineering company specializing in embedded software solutions and IoT Solutions. In India Altran employs 2000 people.

In the engineering services space in India, Altran competes with domestic firms such as Wipro, TCS Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd and other global firms like France’s Alten, Akka Technologies, Germany-based Bertrandt AG and Austria-based AVL List GmbH.

If the deal materialises, it would be another successful exit for KKR from its Indian portfolio in 2017.

KKR, which has been investing in India since 2006, invested about $3.2 billion in Indian firms through its private equity business, and has provided more than $3.5 billion of financing to firms through its corporate- and real estate-focused non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) as of 31 March.

Earlier this year, KKR sold its 36% stake in Gland Pharma Ltd to Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd, a unit of China’s Fosun Group, for $540 million, valuing the company at $1.4 billion.

KKR had acquired the minority stake in the company in 2013 for $200 million from Evolvence India Life Sciences Fund.

Over the last 18 months, KKR also announced exits from portfolio firms including Alliance Tire Group, Dalmia Bharat Group, Gland Pharma Ltd and TVS Logistics Services Ltd.

KKR’s existing private equity investments in India include Aricent, Avendus Capital Pvt. Ltd, Bharti Infratel Ltd, Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, Emerald Media Ltd, Magma Fincorp Ltd, Max Financial Services Ltd and SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

This story was first published on Livemint.com